Real Summer

Our summer is going all too quickly.  The first barrage of work emails has arrived, reminding us that our fall teaching, and the kids’ fall schooling, will be quite a challenge.

This seems like a straightforward math problem: to teach the same number of students, but with more physical distance requirements and with additional support for students to guide them through any and all shifts to online learning, we need more instructors and either more classrooms or a longer school day (or both), more cleaning, as well as perhaps more technological investment.  As in, each student’s learning just got a whole lot more expensive, and that expense can manifest in a variety of ways.

Every educational system I consult is clear that we’ll make the distancing and learning happen; if I drill down into their planning, though, they leave it up to the school/program/instructor to make it happen with the usual resources–or fewer ones.  I’m not into magical thinking or making promises we can’t keep, so I’m still working the math problem . . .

At the moment, that pot is simmering in the background as more local concerns crowd our field of vision.  Sydney has revived our backyard garden bed after it got lost under a pile of weeds, and it’s now half filled with strawberries.  The bushy things just to the right of the white row cover are Sydney’s beloved fava beans, which we recently made into a tasty spread alongside flatbread.  The flowers in the front yard also just keep coming.

I also finally got the chicken coop painted, and the chickens are busy enjoying it and the lengthy run extension Sydney taught the kids how to build out of PVC pipe and netting (not pictured).  These are some spoiled chickens!

The kids have been demonstrating some interesting play patterns this summer.  For the first time, I let go of a clear sense of schedule and left them to find their own diversions outside our meal times and farm or yard work.  They settled in for a month of Legos in the basement and rereading old favorites (I think Katherine first read these Nancy Drew books five years ago!), but now, after I feared the loop would never end, the kids are getting more adventurous again.

They’ve also helped considerably with cooking this summer.  They made samosas at Nathaniel’s instigation, and this is a half-gallon jar containing cornmeal that Nathaniel and I made from Sydney’s dried corn and our new grain mill.  Nathaniel and I were both panting by the time we finished, but we were also very proud of our accomplishment!



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